Today is the first day of February which I’ve thought of all my life as the red month. In fact, in this climate, February is always cold, which is associated in my mind with blue, silver, gray and white. But February is still red — the color of the desire for heat and warmth, the color of hearts and blood, the color of passion and infatuation. Perhaps the color of some degree of insanity. Tonight after 5pm as I left the building, noticing the last of the sky’s light fading quickly, 21 degrees and clear, with snow showers predicted for the evening, I noticed a bicyclist. First of all, riding a bike in February borders on insanity anyway, but some people are challenged by the thrill of conquest of cold and misery. Others perhaps have no choice, but if you work or study on this campus you can ride the buses for free. Something like 65,000 people come to the UW campus everyday but there are only 25,000 parking spaces, so we can’t all drive our personal vehicles and expect to park cheaply. Anyway, this bike rider was peddling along near the far west end of campus, not wearing a helmet but wearing [I’m not making this up] a short sleeve shirt. No gloves, hat or coat. I didn’t happen to notice if he had flip-flops on his feet. A short sleeve shirt! I left the building in my goose-down calf-length coat, fleece hat, gloves, Thinsulate shoes… ok, maybe I was a bit overdressed for today. But a short sleeve shirt?? In February! Why??
It’s now late at night and snow flurries are leaving a light dusting of powder on the concrete that remained dry and walkable for a couple weeks now. We are supposed to get 1-2 inches tonight and 1-2 inches tomorrow. I never quite believe predictions but anyway, this much will go unnoticed. I can’t think much about weather right now, because this is Crazy Week at work. I work on a Federal grant that next week will entertain an evaluation committee for two days of presentations. So we are preparing, and it’s not going all that smoothly. However, it’s convenient that January, February and March are the busiest reporting times — the very months that you don’t much care about being outside. Or rather, you don’t mind so much, except for the fact that you can’t take two weeks off in February to go to Key West. Or San Diego. Or Tucson. Everyone waits until April to escape, because by then the reports are all in. And spring in Wisconsin by then is more or less launched.
If we really do get snow flurries tomorrow, I’ll greatly enjoy watching them flutter down on the way into work in the morning. They are very pretty.